Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010
Outcome 2 - Living and working sustainably
Improved capacity of Australian communities and industry to protect the environment by promoting waste reduction and regulating hazardous substances, wastes, pollutants, ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.1
||Environment Quality Division|
National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources
- On 5 November 2009 the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) agreed to the National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources. This landmark policy sets the national agenda on waste and resource management to 2020. It includes the establishment of new national product stewardship legislation by the Australian Government, to underpin schemes for reducing the environmental, health and safety footprint of manufactured goods and materials. Televisions and computers will be covered by the first product scheme that will start in 2011. The policy also includes the development and publication of a three-yearly waste and resource recovery report showing current and future trends. The first of these, the National Waste Report 2010, was released on 7 May 2010.
Improving the environmental management of chemicals
- The EPHC proposed the establishment of an independent standard setting body to better manage the impact of chemicals on the environment. Following consideration by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in December 2009, work is underway to establish the new body by 2011. This will address a significant gap in the environmental management of chemicals and is part of the wider package of COAG reforms for the better regulation of chemicals and plastics.
- To provide a cleaner and healthier environment through frameworks, standards, regulation and monitoring of the management and use of wastes, hazardous substances, air pollutants, ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.
Key results in building and developing initiatives under the National Waste Policy
- The EPHC agreed to a new strengthened Australian Packaging Covenant, which commenced on 1 July 2010. The covenant has a broad sustainability focus to minimise the overall impacts of packaging through improved packaging design and product stewardship across the packaging chain, increased collection and recycling of packaging consumed away from home (that is, in public places and workplaces) and reduced litter.
- The department continued with the initiative, announced in May 2009, to increase recycling of mercury containing lamps in the commercial and public lighting sectors. With federal funding of up to $600,000 over three years, the FluoroCycle scheme is being delivered by the Lighting Council Australia and the Australian Government, in collaboration with other key bodies. FluoroCycle commenced operations in July 2010.
Key results in leading Australia's engagement on international agreements
- In the 2009 calendar year, Australian imports of ozone-depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol - the international agreement established to protect the ozone layer - totalled 104 tonnes of Ozone-Depleting Potential (ODP) equivalents. This result is 74 per cent better than the target of 393.6 ODP tonnes that Australia is obliged to meet as a party to the Montreal Protocol.
- Greater reductions in imports of ozone-depleting substances are expected in the 2010 calendar year following a further 30 per cent reduction in the annual hydrochlorofluorocarbon import quota from 100 ODP tonnes to 70 ODP tonnes from 1 January 2010.
- In June 2010 the department led Australia's participation in the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the United Nations Environment Programme to prepare a global, legally binding, instrument on mercury to reduce risks to human health and the environment.
Key results in delivering national legislation and policy initiatives
- On 31 March 2010 the National Pollutant Inventory annual report published emissions www.npi.gov.au . Of the 87 substances reported, 54 had emission levels lower than the previous year.
- Amendments to the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 received the Royal Assent on 6 November 2009. These amendments provide for streamlined approval processes, and strengthened monitoring and enforcement.
- Investigations by the department as part of compliance action under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 led to civil proceedings against two fuel suppliers. This action resulted in the Federal Court granting injunctions to stop the supply of non-compliant diesel by these suppliers.
The work towards ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment covered three interconnected areas: leading and promoting national approaches to environmental issues, engagement on international agreements and responsibility for the development and operation of national legislation and policy initiatives.
Leading and promoting national approaches
The department plays an important part in addressing national environmental protection matters through support for the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts in his role as chair of the EPHC. The council addresses broad national policy issues on environmental protection, particularly air, water, and waste matters. The EPHC also incorporates the National Environment Protection Council that has statutory powers to make National Environment Protection Measures covering: air quality, water quality, contaminated sites, hazardous wastes, motor vehicle emissions, and reuse and recycling of used materials.
The major initiatives in 2009-10 were: actions to deliver the National Waste Policy and reforms to reduce the environmental impact of chemicals in Australia and to improve air quality. The department also manages the National Pollutant Inventory, which provides public information on the source, location and level of emissions released in Australia each year.
National Waste Policy and National Waste Report
At the EPHC meeting in November 2009, Australia's environment ministers agreed on a new National Waste Policy that sets the agenda for waste and resource recovery in Australia over the next 10 years. The National Waste Policy sets directions in six key areas: taking responsibility, improving the market, pursuing sustainability, reducing hazard and risk, tailoring solutions and providing the evidence. The policy identifies 16 priority strategies that would benefit from a national or coordinated approach. These include work to remove market impediments to the development of effective markets for waste and recovered resources, and improve certainty; reduce costs for governments and businesses and facilitate investment. The policy has a strong focus on product stewardship, to reduce the environmental, health and safety footprint of manufactured goods and materials during and at end of their life. Televisions and computers will be the first products to be covered by a product stewardship framework underpinned by Commonwealth legislation.
The National Waste Report 2010 provides Australia's first comprehensive national assessment of trends in waste and resource recovery and is a key component of the National Waste Policy, which was agreed by all environment ministers in November 2009. The report will help guide future action by state, territory and Commonwealth governments.
Chemicals reform agenda
The department, in conjunction with the states and territories, is implementing COAG's environmental chemicals reform agenda. This is being done through the EPHC, and relates to three recommendations in the Productivity Commission's 2008 report on Chemicals and Plastics Regulation. The reforms cover: investigation of whether there should be mandatory labelling of chemicals for their environmental impact, setting up a standards setting body to manage the risk to the environment from chemicals and development of a performance measurement framework for chemical monitoring.
Regulation by the Australian Government of fuel and vehicle emission standards has significantly improved air quality. The government is also working through the EPHC to reduce pollution from other nationally significant sources. Currently the department is leading initiatives focused on: wood heaters, which are a significant source of particle pollution (PM10); and petrol driven non-road engines, such as lawnmowers and outboard engines, which emit high levels of PM10, nitrogen dioxide and chemicals that lead to ozone formation. Particle and ozone levels continue to exceed national standards in some major cities, contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.
Further information on these EPHC initiatives is available at www.ephc.gov.au
Engagement on international agreements
The department leads Australia's involvement in several international agreements to minimise impacts from hazardous chemicals, hazardous wastes and ozone-depleting substances. Table 1 provides examples of some of these agreements.
|Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal||Manage hazardous wastes|
|Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedure||Manage hazardous chemicals|
|Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)||Manage hazardous chemicals|
|Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)||Manage hazardous chemicals and wastes|
|Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer||Protect the ozone layer|
Australia's ratification of international agreements is subject to the domestic treaty making process. The department is currently leading Australia's position on several decisions, including the listing of nine new chemicals in the Annexes of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This was agreed at the Fourth Conference of the Parties on 8 May 2009. Listing in the convention will ban or restrict the use of these chemicals, and require that stockpiles of them and wastes containing them are managed.
The department is also leading Australia's position in negotiations for a new legally binding instrument on mercury. This initiative seeks to increase global efforts to reduce the adverse impacts of mercury. The negotiations began in 2010 and will be finalised in early 2013.
National legislation and policy development
Hazardous waste - The export, import, transit and disposal of hazardous waste is administered by the department through the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989. The process within the Act for granting permits ensures that international movements of hazardous wastes are dealt with in an environmentally sound manner both within and outside Australia.
Protecting the ozone layer - Australia meets its Montreal Protocol phase-out obligations through the operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989. The department's administration of this legislation delivers a national approach to the import, manufacture, use and destruction of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.
Used oil - Every year about 300 million litres of used petroleum-based oil are generated in Australia. This used oil can seriously damage the environment if disposed of incorrectly. The department manages the disposal and reuse of used oil through the Product Stewardship for Oil program, which is underpinned by the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000.
Fuel quality - The department administers the operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 to ensure that the fuel supplied to consumers meets quality standards, minimises emissions and maintains efficient engine operation. Fuel quality standards exist for petrol, automotive diesel, biodiesel (B100) and LPG (autogas). Work is continuing to develop fuel standards for biofuel blends, specifically diesel containing 20 per cent biodiesel (B20) and 85 per cent ethanol blended with petrol (E85).
Biotechnology and nanotechnology - The department assesses whether there are environmental risks posed by the products of these potentially hazardous technologies. The results are used to advise the Gene Technology Regulator under the Gene Technology Act 2000, which is administered by the Department of Health and Ageing.
Education for Sustainability - The department advances learning and education for sustainability so that all Australians are encouraged to live and work more sustainably. Work in 2009-10 included a Sustainability Curriculum Framework, developed to guide the inclusion of sustainability in school curriculums and coordination of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI). AuSSI provides practical support to schools and their communities through teaching materials, staff training and tools for planning and reporting on sustainability. More information on AuSSI is available at www.environment.gov.au/education/aussi
The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Amendment Bill 2010, was introduced into parliament in May 2010 to address compliance, enforcement and administration issues that have arisen in the operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 since its enactment. Amendments to the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 were also made to improve the handling of end-use gases in the refrigeration, air conditioning and fire protection industries and prevent the release of these gases to the atmosphere.
Program 2.2: Management of Hazardous Wastes, Substances and Pollutants2
|Program 2.2 Deliverables
The implementation and administration of national approaches
to reduce, monitor and assess the risk and impact of wastes,
hazardous substances, air pollutants, ozone-depleting
substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.
|Development of a national waste policy and national waste report||Yes||EPHC agreed to the National Waste Policy on 5 November 2009. National Waste Overview and National Waste Report released on 7 May 2010.|
|Comprehensive assessment and compliance program in place under the Fuel Quality Standards Act (FQS Act) [number] of fuel samples taken and analysed]||3,000||4,426 fuel samples taken and analysed|
|Fuel quality standards maintained and emerging fuels assessed for possible regulation||Statutory review of FQS Act completed||The statutory review of the FQS Act has not occurred because consequential amendments need to be made to the regulations as a result of the previous Act review.|
|Environmentally sustainable management and reuse of used oil through the Product Stewardship for Oil (PSO) Program||PSO Act administered effectively||Yes|
|Emission levels of listed substances from industrial facilities required to report under the National Pollutant Inventory are monitored and reported [% of facilities identified and reported]||100||All emission levels monitored and reported from identified sources.|
|Maintain and report on national air quality standards, and develop effective emissions strategies||Review of NEPM, State of Air Report published||Review is well advanced and a decision by ministers to vary the Ambient Air Quality NEPM is expected in early 2011. State of the Air Report to be published in the second half of 2010.|
|The movement of hazardous waste to or from Australia is subject to statutory assessment and cases of illegal movements are investigated and prevented|
||100||All permit applications assessed or being assessed within statutory timeframes.|
||100||All suspected illegal traffic cases investigated or under investigation in accordance with departmental compliance and enforcement policy|
|Assessment of chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMO) for potential environmental impact and preparation of risk management recommendations [% of environmental risks assessed or being assessed]||100||100|
|Application of effective import and export licensing and quota systems for ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases. Implementation of end-use controls to minimise emissions of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases|
||95||All permits assessed within statutory timeframes.|
||100||All alleged breaches investigated or under investigation in accordance with departmental compliance and enforcement policy|
|Key Performance Indicator
Legislative and policy frameworks remain
current, with effective monitoring and
compliance and measurement of trends
|National Waste Policy accepted||Yes||EPHC agreed to the National Waste Policy on 5 November 2009. National Waste Overview and National Waste Report released on 7 May 2010.|
|Transport fuels supplied in Australia that meet legislated quality standards when assessed [%].||95||Monitoring has continued under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000, achieving a compliance rate of 97%.|
|Volume of used oil recovered for re-use under the PSO Act (3 year average) [megalitres].
Note: The KPI of >350 was an error in the 2009-10 Portfolio Budget statements and has been corrected here to >250.
|>250||A total of 263 megalitres was recovered in 2009-10. The volume of oil recovered for re-use has increased in each of the last four years.|
|National Pollutant Inventory published annually by statutory date of 31 March.||Yes||1 April 2010 (delay due to technical issues when going live with new database).|
|Ambient concentrations of key air pollutants comply with all national air quality standards.||Yes||Key ambient air pollutants complied with NEPM for both Ambient Air and Air Toxics except for particles and ozone, which at times exceeded national standards.|
|Compliance activities undertaken within statutory timeframes for movement of hazardous waste to or from Australia [%].||95||100|
|Number of assessments of chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMO) undertaken|
|Total use of ozone-depleting substances and emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases per annum.|
||Yes||Yes. Imports of ozone-depleting substances in 2009 were 104 ODP tonnes compared with Australia's Montreal Protocol limit of 393.6 ODP tonnes. This continues the downward trend in imports of ozone-depleting substances as required by the Act.|
Refer to Appendix 2: Resources for Outcomes - Expenses and Resources for Outcome 2.
1 Outcome statement amended to reflect loss of functions due to machinery of government changes on 8 March 2010.
2 Reference to Program 2.1 removed with loss of function due to machinery of government changes on 8 March 2010.
- Letter of transmittal
- Executive summary
- Outcome 1 - Conserving our natural assets
- Outcome 2 - Living and working sustainably
- Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- Operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
- Operation of the product stewardship arrangements for oil including the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000
- Operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000
- Outcome 3 - Protecting Antarctica
- Outcome 4 - Adapting to a future with less water
- Outcome 5 - Protecting and enhancing Australia's culture and heritage
- Corporate Outcome - Improving organisational effectiveness
- Financial statements
- List of requirements